The UK government has invited councils across England to apply for a share of £60m (US$77.5m) of new funding to support sustainable travel, as part of its long-term aim of reducing the use of motorized transport to improve air quality.
Councils across England are being asked to bid for a share of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) green Sustainable Travel Access Fund, which aims to boost walking and cycling in local communities. In his 2015 Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne announced £580m (US$750m) of overall funding for sustainable travel. The new fund has been launched to encourage councils to offer sustainable transport initiatives that can improve access to jobs, skills, training and education. The finance, which will support projects over three years from 2017 to 2020, is part of a wider government fund of over £300m (US$388m) to boost walking and cycling during the current parliament.
Councils are being encouraged to look at opportunities to work together on devising schemes that can work across jurisdictions. They are encouraged to work alongside Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), many of which will be including sustainable transport measures, including walking and cycling investment. Proposals are to be submitted next month in a further round of Growth Deals, where up to £1.8m (US$2.3m) will be available. The new Access Fund will operate as a competition between English local transport authorities excluding London, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Mayor with bids that receive the highest scores against the assessment criteria to be awarded funding. To be considered for funding, bids should articulate a strategic narrative around how their scheme will contribute to economic growth; the scheme should: demonstrate support for boosting the numbers of people cycling and walking; and articulate how the scheme will improve access to jobs, skills, education and training. The successful authorities will be asked to contribute 10% of their scheme costs.
Announcing the new funding, UK Transport Minister with responsibility for cycling and walking, Robert Goodwill, said, “Green sustainable transport schemes cut congestion, improve air quality, and can make it easier for people to get around more efficiently and effectively. We are investing over £300m (US$390m) to support cycling and walking schemes in this parliament, and this new scheme is aimed at kick-starting innovative and sustainable council projects.”
The results of an earlier competition were announced in May, with 23 local councils or combined authority projects sharing in £20.6m (US$26.6m) of government funding to support a total of nearly £33.4m (US$43m) worth of new projects up and down England, including: ‘Let’s Get to Work’ in Greater Manchester; Connecting Hampshire to Grow Rural Prosperity; and ‘Go Smarter’ across the north-east. The closing date for councils to bid for a share of the new fund is September 9, with the successful applications to be announced later in the autumn.